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Colts' Vick Ballard faces series of obstacles

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Indianapolis Colts Vick Ballard's biggest obstacle to returning to the field is how he rehabilitates from his torn left Achilles, which has ended his 2014 season after two practices.

But what Ballard also has to deal with is the mental obstacle of overcoming his second season-ending injury in less than a year.

He tore his ACL in his right knee during a non-contact drill in practice -- just like how he tore his Achilles -- in September 2013.

“It’s tough because you’re talking about two year-long recoveries back-to-back,” ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell said. “It’s the mental part of coming back from two consecutive year-long surgery, rehab and recovery. It’s hard to gear up knowing that you have a year ahead of you of recovering. You’re now just coming back from missing a year because of the ACL and you’re psyched looking forward to the season and boom, your leg gets taken out from underneath you and you’re going, 'Here I go again, another year.' Now it’s very discouraging.”

Bell said Ballard can return to football from this injury, but he has a long road ahead of him because it takes most athletes about a year to recover. Ballard, who will soon have surgery on his Achilles, will be able to start getting back to activities in four to six months, making it ideal that he’ll be ready for training camp in 2015 barring any setbacks.

“Right now it’s training camp, so if you want to put a silver lining on it, he has another year before the next training camp,” Bell said. “In other words he wouldn’t be feeling any kind of pressure to return sooner than that. It would make no sense for him to try to come back this year, especially since he’s coming off the ACL.

“You can come back and return to top form, but it takes a while. Often even after they’re back for a bit, guys will say it takes them a full year of really playing before they really feel like themselves.”